Our capacity to communicate through systems of language differentiates us from other species, but the use of that language to communicate effectively is actually harder than anticipated, particularly in front of an audience. Fortunately, by reading this book, you can learn the skills required to communicate more effectively one-on-one and in a speaking situation.
The speeches you present will be given in a particular context. In your role as communicator, you will encode and deliver a message, which will then be decoded by audience members (also communicators). At the same time you are speaking, you will be receiving verbal and nonverbal feedback from the audience. The way that the message is decoded will depend entirely on the amount of noise interfering with the message as well as the worldviews of audience members.
Every new speaker should work to become skilled at the eleven core public speaking competencies. These competencies include: selecting a useful topic, writing an engaging introduction, organizing the points of the speech, finding effective supporting materials for the points, adding a conclusion that provides closure, using clear and vivid language, making sure that one’s vocal expression corresponds to the goals of the speech, using nonverbals that complement the message, adapting the message to one’s audience, using visual aids effectively, and using credible evidence and sound reasoning in persuasive messages. Each one of the competencies just listed is covered in depth in one or more chapters in this book.
The authors of this textbook hope that readers will find the chapters useful in developing their own communication competence. Whether you are new to giving presentations, or a more experienced speaker, it is important to remember that the best way to improve your public speaking skills is through preparation and practice. Although it may take time to learn effective speaking skills, the effort is well worth the benefits you will reap in your personal, professional, and public life.
Review Questions and Activities
- What are the personal, professional and public benefits of enhancing your public speaking skills?
- What is the difference between the linear and transactional model of communication?
- Define and give an original example of each of the elements of the communication process.
- Which of the elements of the communication process do you think has the greatest impact on the way a message is interpreted? Explain
- Abstract Word
- Words that refer to ideas or concepts that are removed from material reality.
- The means through which the message travels.
- The people in the interaction or speech setting who encode and decode messages simultaneously.
- Concrete Word
- A word that describes a tangible object that can be perceived through the senses.
- The communication rules that govern different physical settings and/or different types of relationships.
- Cultural Noise
- Differences in worldview that cause message interference.
- The process of listening to words and interpreting the words so they are associated with a mental image.
- The process of taking a mental image, associating the image with words, and then speaking those words.
- The psychological process of interpreting and making sense of the messages we receive.
- The words, nonverbal behavior, or other signals transmitted from one person to another.
- Anything that interferes with the message transmission or the encoding and decoding processes.
- Nonverbal Behavior
- All of the messages we send — except for the words we say. Can include appearance, eye behavior, kinesics (body movement), proxemics (use of space), touch, time, and smell.
- The verbal and nonverbal rules (usually unspoken) that govern communicative behavior.
- Psychological Noise
- Message interference that results from disturbed or excited mental states.
- Physiological Noise
- Message interference that results from bodily discomfort.
- Physical Noise
- Message interference that results when the noise level (as measured in decibels) makes it difficult to hear a message.
- Public Speaking
- The act of delivering a speech in front of a live audience.
- The overall framework through which an individual sees, thinks about, and interprets the world and interacts with it.
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- Photo Credits
- p. 5 The Kennedy / Nixon Debate 1960 en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenned y_Nixon_Debate_(1960).jpg By the National Park Service
- p. 6 FEMA worker talking to woman upload.wikimedia.org/Wikipedia/co mmons/1/17/FEMA_-_32747_-
- _FEMA_Community_Relations_worker_talking_to_a_Ohio_resident.jpg Ficara / FEMA
- p. 6 Superfans http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi..._Superfans.jpg By HMJD02